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Poster: unclejohn52 Date: Jul 22, 2011 12:27pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

"I wasn't meaning to sound critical or dismissive of other genres."

I apologize if I implied that. And agree, the Garcia/Grisman collabs. are some of the most treasured in my collection.

I can listen to and enjoy almost anything... although Mahler for me is still an acquired taste... rap/hip hop will never foul my airspace if I can help it....

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Poster: jerlouvis Date: Jul 22, 2011 2:37pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

I think the main point to be made in this discussion of a 1985 version of PITB,is the fact that it is a 1985 version,therefore it goes without saying that in no way on any level is it going to approach a version when the band was still very good.Considering it's late date I found this version contained some sharp ensemble playing and some subtle thematic and dynamic changes that were as much as the band seemed to be capable of at this point in their history.
As a person who really loves jazz music having the word smooth attached to it is very disturbing,it is to my mind one of the reasons more people don't try and familiarize themselves with the art form,there are many different types of jazz,imagine if the overwhelming perception of rock was represented by Foreigner or Creed.I feel that by referring to jazz as smooth it equates all jazz with the likes of Kenny G and all those insipid artists who churn out that shit tagged smooth jazz.

Find some smoothness here.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_uMhfDPDjKU

This post was modified by jerlouvis on 2011-07-22 21:37:57

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Poster: ringolevio Date: Jul 22, 2011 3:29pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

very interesting thread ...

I'm not big on jazz, and feel sort of guilty about it, I assume one needs a more sophisticatd ear than I possess to appreciate it ... but it's interesting you don't want to hear it called "smooth." There are so many radio stations that bill themselves as "smooth jazz"! Are they just all schmaltz?

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Poster: jerlouvis Date: Jul 22, 2011 6:52pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

Liking or disliking jazz is just a matter of taste Ring,you need not have a more sophisticated ear,with some time spent on it and your level of intelligence you would grasp a working knowledge very quickly.
Anything touted as smooth jazz is a weak,bastardized version,similar to the easy listening music version of rock,soul or pop songs you might hear while in an elevator or supermarket.

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Poster: leftwinger57 Date: Jul 23, 2011 1:06pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

This reply just goes out to all who responded to the original post. My nieve take on this is quite possibly the WHO .I'm not saying that they directly influenced the DEAD but going way back to Montery and then Tommy hits big ,well is there any comparison w/ suites and reprises and the straight rock opera. I might be totally wrong but Townsend was into all kinds of music as was Jerry so Iam kinda linking them in a far off sort of way.

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Poster: leftwinger57 Date: Jul 23, 2011 1:06pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

This reply just goes out to all who responded to the original post. My nieve take on this is quite possibly the WHO .I'm not saying that they directly influenced the DEAD but going way back to Montery and then Tommy hits big ,well is there any comparison w/ suites and reprises and the straight rock opera. I might be totally wrong but Townsend was into all kinds of music as was Jerry so Iam kinda linking them in a far off sort of way.

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Poster: bkidwell Date: Jul 22, 2011 2:58pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

Great link - I didn't mean to sound dismissive, that was probably a wrongly chosen term. I'm familiar with a fair amount of the more experimental and free forms of the art, from Ornette through Derek Bailey and some players I've heard more locally like Roscoe Mitchell and Hanah Jon Taylor.

In free jazz, though, I still sometimes have the same perception, that the music 30 seconds into a track has a similar texture and content to the music 4 minutes in.

Perhaps I'm just not familiar with the musicians who would take such an approach, but I have always wanted to hear traditional jazz playing and free playing within the same musical frame - start with a standard head and play solos, then have the players break the solo structure and start playing motivically, possibly let it go atonal, then work back to the original.

I should have made it clear I'm a huge fan and admirer of most of the giants of jazz, especially Mingus, Ellington, Miles Davis, and Keith Jarrett.

In fact, Keith Jarrett's solo piano improv concerts are some of the music that really represents kind of an ideal for me - although I tend to hear that music as overlapping a lot with classical style and vocabulary, too.

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Poster: duckpond74 Date: Jul 23, 2011 9:12am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

" I have always wanted to hear traditional jazz playing and free playing within the same musical frame - start with a standard head and play solos, then have the players break the solo structure and start playing motivically, possibly let it go atonal, then work back to the original."

So, bkidwell, what do you think about Bill Frisell, Charlie Hayden and especially Burnt Sugar: The Arkestra Chamber?

Are you familiar with Charles Lloyd's 'The Water Is Wide'?

Given your interesting discussion with jerlouvis and others here, curious to get your take on these folks and their work.

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Poster: bkidwell Date: Jul 23, 2011 12:19pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

I wish I had a better answer for you than: "Love Bill Frisell, a true master. I only really know Haden from his work with Ornette and Jarrett, haven't heard his work as a leader. Burnt Sugar is new to me. I only know Charles Lloyd from his appearances with the GD, if that is even actually him."

I only have expert-level knowledge of European classical music and the Grateful Dead, and within the jazz world, I'm pretty ignorant (in comparison) of everything post-1975. It's not that I don't enjoy and appreciate the music, it's just that I love Schumann and Mozart and the GD so much it can be hard to find the time to really listen and explore new things.

I always hear the music of the best classical composers, and the best work of the GD, as having a certain really sophisticated musical language, with a lot of implicit "rules" about how the notes are chosen and what they signify. One of the reasons why I am always trying to claim that the improv of the GD is more like classical composition than jazz of any kind is that I rarely hear that sense of "precise meaning" in jazz, even that of skilled modern improvisers.

I tend to hear the jazz style, in both free and structured contexts, as more impressionistic, and not as focused on the significance of the individual note. A lot of it has to do with different concepts of musical harmony, I think. If you look at the way chords are used in jazz, it is very different from what is called "functional harmony" in classical music. This is a complex and subtle topic that goes in a really technical direction - the basis of harmony in the overtone series, how our ear perceives the relation of harmony and melody, and then trying to understand the relation of atonality or alternative chords and scales to these things.

One technical aspect of this is that rock music uses the mixolydian mode as the default, rather than the major scale. The mixolydian mode doesn't contain a major dominant, and the major dominant is the foundation of how harmonic tension works. I'll stop now because if I write more, I won't be able to stop.

"The decline of the dominant and the rise of flat seven: is functional harmony possible in rock tonality? Studies in Grateful musicology, volume XVII, coming soon!"

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Poster: duckpond74 Date: Jul 24, 2011 10:51am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

"I only have expert-level knowledge of European classical music and the Grateful Dead ..." and that is a great deal of worthy knowledge in my book. I have dabbled in all sorts of music - old and new, near and far, common and exotic. As far as the broad 'classical' music scene goes, I have a strong love of Early and Medieval music - I still play my vinyl of Ricercare - The ancient Music Ensemble of Zurich. I'm well versed in all of the 'heavies' from Baroque to John Cage, with preferences for Dowland, Hildegard Von Bingen, Satie, Debussey, Faure, Messiaen, Hovaness, Xenakis, Chopin and Shoenberg.

You seem to have a strong music theory background, so I'll throw this old conundrum your way . . . When the album 'The Restful Mind' by Larry Coryell (and members of Oregon) came out in '75, the first track 'Improvisation On Robert De Visee's Menuet ll', re-ignited the rumour / myth at that time, that passages of 'China Cat' were inspired by De Visee. Are you familiar with that Coryell recording, and have you any insight as to whether or not there's truth to that tale, or is it all hogwash? You may be the one to put to rest a decades old speculation.

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Poster: bkidwell Date: Jul 24, 2011 2:46pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

I don't think there is any direct musical connection between the de Visee and China Cat. I'm not familiar with that Coryell album but I can't see how it could change my opinion.

I think China Cat is obviously influenced by a certain contrapuntal/baroque feel - Weir said it was the only song where Jerry gave him a totally specific part to play, so it's clear Jerry was trying to create some lines that fit together in a very defined way.

I suspect people have proposed the connection because that minuet is a very commonly used teaching piece for guitar students, and as a result musical elements which are common to a large amount of Baroque music might trigger people's association. I think people are just hearing the "short-short-long" rhythmic pattern and sequential use of scale fragments.

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Poster: ringolevio Date: Jul 22, 2011 3:31pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

thanks for educating a musical ignoramus (me)

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Poster: bkidwell Date: Jul 22, 2011 3:46pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

You can be a skilled and perceptive listener, or a good singer, without any formal training and knowledge. I know quite a few people with zero musical training or formal knowledge who have a better "ear" than I do, regardless of how much time I've spent trying to train it.

Sometimes I worry about posting a lot about music theory and referencing a lot of classical music, because there is a societal perspective that gives that music a kind of cultural status and privileges technical language. I don't really share those values, I believe musical quality is something that exists between the listener and the work, and I want to hear the beauty in everything.

It is fun to make comparisons, to try to articulate why I like X better than Y, but I never want to imply that my way of hearing is any better than anyone else's, or that my opinion is made more important because I've invested time in learning a lot of special purpose vocabulary for describing how music is put together.

So don't call yourself a musical ignoramus - as far as I'm concerned, everyone who loves the Grateful Dead should award themselves a MUSIC EXPERT OFFICIAL BADGE because the Grateful Dead is awesome music and anyone who can hear the beauty in their performances has good taste and knowledge!

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Poster: ringolevio Date: Jul 24, 2011 6:22pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

thanks for the encouragement - I have just started piano lessons again. Am bookmarking this long and fascinating thread to study further ...

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Poster: jerlouvis Date: Jul 22, 2011 9:20pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

Bkidwell,I did not take your comments as dismissive and I figured a person with your knowledge of music had to at least be acquainted with some of the major jazz figures,to what extent would have been my question. As for the free improvising style you mentioned,I don't know that it hasn't been done that way,but pure traditional jazz and free playing are not usually mixed in a straight up manner,in a way what you mention is the essence of free jazz,just maybe not so tightly structured or inclusive of traditional stylings. I will put my mind to it and see if I can come up with some examples close to what you mentioned.I'm sure there is some Sun Ra or Anthony Braxton recordings in that vein.

Butch Morris is a composer and conductor of avant garde jazz and if you are not familiar you might like to google him.He has come up with a process called conduction.Conduction is a type of structured free improvisation where Morris conducts an improvising ensemble with a series of baton and hand gestures.Being familiar with the way a conductor works you might find what he is doing interesting.He has been at this since the mid-80's and I went and saw him every Monday night for about a year at a club in Manhattan where he led the David Murray Big Band,an assortment of the finest free jazz players in the world,on some mind blowing adventures.It was something to behold watching him group different individuals into improvising units creating what I would have to think was one time only music in content and sound,pure genius.Here is an example,the best I could find for now.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Thq_6oyEqxm
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dZD76fhz9Rk

Once again the 2nd video won't play and everything seems correct,so I added another in the hopes it might play.

This post was modified by jerlouvis on 2011-07-23 01:48:15

This post was modified by jerlouvis on 2011-07-23 01:50:54

This post was modified by jerlouvis on 2011-07-23 02:11:06

This post was modified by jerlouvis on 2011-07-23 04:20:26

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Poster: bkidwell Date: Jul 22, 2011 9:35pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

Wow, this Butch Morris is really great! (Links do seem to have problems but I found some of his music just by searching his name.) Really interesting sound and texture and I can hear a ton of inner life in the ensemble. This is exciting music to me, thanks for the reference, The David Murray connection means its just two degrees of separation from the GD, also.

I also think Sun Ra's approach produces some very interesting textural contrasts within the music, also, although I've only heard a few of his recordings,

When I originally used the term "smooth" I forgot that there is an actual subgenre of jazz called "smooth jazz" so it was definitely a poorly chosen term, I was just trying to talk about drama and contrast, not meaning to imply that it all sounds bland.

I also wasn't meaning to imply that I think my personal love for drama and contrast is a general rule I think all music should follow, there are (as someone else pointed out) a lot of masterpieces even within the classical tradition that aren't based on contrast and drama. That musical language is mostly focused on central European composers from 1775-1900.

Thanks as always for your perspective, one of the best things about all the discussions on this forum is that it teaches all of us to "hear with different ears" by sharing our perceptions.

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Poster: duckpond74 Date: Jul 23, 2011 9:32am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

So, jerlouvis, if you are familiar with Butch Morris, have you heard and / or seen Greg Tate's Burnt Sugar? If so, curious to hear your take, and if you still are in proximity to Manhattan and Brooklyn, I'm envious that you have occasional opportunities to check them out live.

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Poster: jerlouvis Date: Jul 23, 2011 10:15am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

Yes sir DP,I am familiar with Greg Tate,he has been a music writer in the Village Voice( the alternative newspaper in NYC 40 or more years) for decades and is also a member of the Black Rock Coalition,aside from a number of different bands he has fronted over the years.I'm only familiar with Burnt Sugar through a few videos on youtube and some friends opinions who have seen them.After seeing Butch Morris do his thing with so many great musicians,in so many different forms,it is hard to compare the little I have seen of it to it's model which is Butch Morris,truth be told some of music I've heard seemed inferior due to the level of musicianship in Burnt Sugar,one piece I saw featured a sax player who did not play a single note of interest and he was featured,but as I said I have very limited exposure so there might be some fantastic Burnt Sugar out there.I still live about 30 miles from NYC on Long Island(better known as NYC Land) so it is a short hop into the city,due to some health issues,fewer and less listener friendly venues and seemingly smaller pool of out music in general my attendance has gone way down.It's good to see you get in on one these sort of jazz related threads DP,I remember you mentioning a bill with Sun Ra and Captain Beefheart that you attended,making me jealous I might add,and always hoped you would lend your perspective to some of these conversations because they would be the better for it.

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Poster: duckpond74 Date: Jul 24, 2011 9:21am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

Jerlouvis, I haven't seen all of their videos, but I have seen Burnt Sugar several times over the last few years and always found them incredible. You may want to check them out next time they play The Apollo, I've heard their shows there have been amazing.. They definitely give credit to Butch Morris for their take on his Conduction, but they are are heavily influenced by Sun Ra, Funkadelic, Miles (Bitches Brew and Silent Way time frame), Hendrix as well as Prince, and several others. Diverse influences and a band that fluctuates between 8 to 18 players - I've seen them with more than 20 on stage - makes for an ever changing and always fresh performance. I'm sure some gigs are amazing and some may feature a train wreck or two. That's the risk with conduction and improvisation. I've seen a couple of near train wrecks, not unlike out Grateful Dead, but they've always stayed on the rails. I have seen them groove for over a half hour on a theme similar to The Other One. It was an unexpected joyful noise. On a different note, what do you think of Tortoise?

You mention that Sun Ra Captain Beefheart gig at the Aragon Ballroom in Chicago from Spring of '73. Did I mention that it was a triple bill with a young and very nervous John Hammond opening? He only knew he had an opening slot gig. It wasn't till he got to the venue that he saw who - and 'what' - he was opening for. He was completely freaked, but rose to the occasion and gave a good set in the end. It was actually a four set night when you count the set where Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band were joined by Sun Ra and much of his Arkestra for a set that almost seemed rehearsed the way they pulled it off - I mean that in a good way.

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Poster: jerlouvis Date: Jul 24, 2011 1:53pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

I would have been a happy man watching a Beefheart/Sun Ra collaboration in 1973 DP, you lucky dog.
I had heard of Tortoise but my only listening experience came in a project they did with Beck Hansen and Thurston Moore on Beck's website,it featured them al doing covers of Yanni's music oddly enough,if you have any interest you can go to beck.com under record club,and watch /listen to the videos of said music.
Having read Greg Tates music column over many years and seeing him at countless shows I attended,when I first heard of Burnt Sugar and it's ideology it seemed to be a very appealing situation,for a variety of reasons it just never synched up for me to catch a show,then I got a bad review or two of shows from friends and sort of put them on the backburner so to say.However I still have an interest and with your recommendation I will definitely keep them in mind.Here is that bad video I saw,I'm pretty sure you will see what I was saying as far as a useless sax solo and fairly sloppy and lame backup from the ensemble.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r1hZ1t-vbms

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Poster: light into ashes Date: Jul 22, 2011 7:30pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

Well, there's smooth and then there's "smooth"...a lot of Miles Davis' work from the '60s I'd call smooth, I think in the sense that bkidwell meant it - I know you've said you don't like Miles - but it's nothing like the horror of Kenny G and today's "smooth jazz" stations... So yeah, due to the connotation, the word should probably be avoided when it comes to actual jazz!

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Poster: jerlouvis Date: Jul 22, 2011 8:06pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: improv style, jazz vs. classical, drama

Smooth just conjures up images of uptight looking white guys in suits from the 50's playing dull straight ahead snappy garbage,as easily as it does todays schlock by Kenny G or whatever is passing for smooth jazz.
I knew what bkidwell was getting at LIA,but I had to say something.

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